“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
1. Jesus’ love for us is our reason for loving others. That means our love for others should be similar to Jesus’ love for us – servant hearted and self-sacrificial. Costly and yet still freely given. Is it?
2. Jesus is talking to his disciples – Christians, we need to actively love one another. That means we needs to get to know each other personally, we need to trust one another and take initiative to learn each others needs so we can serve each other. Don’t look at others and blame them for not knowing about you because they’re not putting in effort. Instead put in effort yourself. You can only change your own actions.
3. We do this as part of sharing our faith. Yes, we need to preach the gospel with words (yes, that’s hard and scary, but we need to do it). But we also need to show our faith in how we live – especially in relation to the community of believers. If Jesus is real and has really saved us, then it makes sense that we should be different to the world.
4. Paul doesn’t make a distinction between believers. I don’t have the right to love Bill more than Joe, or to care for Sam instead of Tim. I don’t have the right to look at one person and see that they’re harder to love or get on with and just avoid them. No – Jesus tells us to love one another fully, regardless of who they are. That’s tough when you take it seriously. But really good. Thats what should be different about us as Christians – we shouldn’t just love people who are loveable. We should actively love and serve those who are harder to love. We don’t do it in an attempt to impress people, but to serve God.
- Maybe a helpful point to put this in perspective: if God had only loved those of us who were loveable or worth saving because of something good in us then every single one of us would still be bound of his punishment in hell forever because of our sin.
5. Jesus doesn’t talk here about loving Non-christians, but the way we do that is by serving them. What do they need most? The gospel. We need to love them, and a massive part of that is telling them the gospel – that Jesus alone can save from God’s wrath, since he alone was perfect. We sin and deserve God’s punishment for eternity, but if we put our trust in Jesus and repent then we will be entirely forgiven. What a promise! Tell people!
- Is my love for others clearly visible? If yes, then is that because I’m trying to win man’s praise or serve God?
1 Sam 30:6
David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.
David is in a pretty dire situation at this point. He and his men have joined the Philistines because in Israel they were constantly under threat from Saul. After marching out to attack Israelite forces in chapter 29 (by God’s grace they were sent away before the battle began), they return home and find that the Amalekites have looted their town and taken their wives and children.
The result: The people begin talking about stoning David. But David in light of this tragedy turns to God to find his strength.
Where do you and I turn in times of crisis and disaster? Do we fret and get worried? Do we try to fix it ourselves straight away? Do we turn to friends or family first? What about doctors? Money?
These are all natural responses. But none usually have any helpful affect on the situation – indeed without God’s hand none of them can do anything at all. Instead we should follow David’s example and find strength and comfort in God. God never promises that hardships won’t happen. In fact he promises that if we try to live for him we will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). But he also promises that if we are his people he will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
How do we find strength in God?
- We need to remember his promises. He promises that he works everything for the good of his people – Romans 8:28. He also promises that he uses hardships to build us into who he wants us to be (James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1). That doesn’t make it easy. But we have hope, and it is comforting to know that God has a plan and that he is entirely in control.
- We need to remember that God is faithful and he always keeps his promises. He is merciful and loving. He has rescued his people from sin – and so even though we suffer here and won’t always understand why, we can look forward to heaven when we will suffer no longer (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Revelations 21)
- We pray. We cast our anxieties on God, knowing that he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:4-7).
David doesn’t just leave it there though. His men are still distressed and angry. He takes that strength and comfort he has gained from reflecting on God’s character and he acts on it. He and his army go after the Amalekites and God gives them the victory (and as it turns out God had protected all of their family and possessions).
Unlike David, we usually wont have to run after an army. But we do face very real hardships. Trust God and remember his promises and then get up and act. Don’t just worry or be anxious about the situation, seek how best to serve God within it, and do that.
Where do you look for your strength? What do you do with that strength?
Only God can offer strength that lasts – only he gives hope beyond death through Jesus Christ our Lord.